'We're not like that': Denial of racism in the Afrikaans press in South Africa

Wasserman H. (2010)


While the South African media on the whole underwent significant shifts after the demise of apartheid, repositioning was especially acute on the part of the Afrikaans-language press, which during the apartheid years largely served as legitimising institutions for apartheid and now had to adapt to the changing democratic political and social environment. This repositioning coincided with a liberal consensus in the news media in general, in terms of which individual rights, independence of the media and freedom of speech were emphasised. What complicated matters for the Afrikaans media was the need to retain the loyalty of primarily white Afrikaans readers, who remained attractive to advertisers, while having to orientate itself in relation to the new centres of political power in the country. The precarious balance between the liberal consensus of individual rights and freedom of expression on the one hand, and the imperative to carry a torch for Afrikaans cultural identity in the new dispensation, comes to light in news coverage of a recent racist incident at a historically white, Afrikaans university. This article will seek to explore editorial comment on the incident in selected Afrikaans media, to indicate how the event was interpreted and presented as an individual transgression, rather than a systemic and historically determined problem. © Unisa Press.

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